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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Closed doors have always had a way of blocking me from wherever I wanted to go. Yet few shut doors have kept me from doing what calls to me. Once I can visualize what is possible, determination and perseverance propel me forward.

From my earliest memories, I struggled to function like “normal” children. My home was not the only challenge in my young life. With almost no coordination and poor hearing, I seemed to live in my own little world. Walking didn’t happen until I was well over 2 years old and I don’t remember hearing much until I was 5 or 6 years old when my tonsils and adenoids were removed along with some other surgical procedure on my ears. 

Somehow the little girl that could barely find her place with others learned that she could do almost anything she set her mind to do. Can’t was not part of my vocabulary and it still isn’t.

  • After nearly nine years of speech therapy, I learned to talk with clarity.
  • Somewhere around 8 or 9 years old, my second grade teacher taught us to write in cursive. I really struggled; I just couldn’t do it. So each and every night, I would go home and practice writing late into the evening. The more I practiced, the better I was able to write.
  • Around 10 years old, I was mortified that all the girls in my class could jump rope. I couldn’t – not at all! So instead of giving up, I went home every night and practiced jumping rope from the moment I got home until the moment it turned dark. The GREAT news is that I did learn to be an excellent jump roper; the BAD news is that within a day or so of learning, I woke up to the worst pain I can ever remember. My leg muscles had totally seized up and I could not take even one step. One of my sweetest memories of my father was when he gently picked me up and put me into the hot bathtub to try to loosen up my muscles and ease some of the pain. It worked.
  • Better late than never, at 11 years old, I decided that I would learn to ride a bike. With my friend Elizabeth by my side, I remember feeling freedom and joy as I biked down Pikeswood Drive for the first time. And that feeling returns each and every time I get on a bike.
  • In junior high school, I decided that I wanted to be able to do at least a little gymnastics. It was hard for me to watch all the other kids do front rolls and back rolls during our Physical Education class. To say that I was being a dreamer is an understatement. And yet, I’ll never forget trying to strengthen my muscles, teaching myself to do front rolls, back rolls, cartwheels, and even backbends! After weeks of practicing in class and at home, I was finally able to do all of those things, but also create a really AWESOME routine for the uneven parallel bars. The best moment came when Mrs. Brown, my PE teacher, yelled, “Slow down, you are moving too fast for the spotters to keep you safe.” I never could walk across the balance beam, but that didn’t matter to me. I was so proud of all I did accomplish through sheer determination and perseverance.
  • I always dreamed of being a runner. It didn’t matter to me if I was slow, I just wanted to be a runner. So, at 16 years old, I took up running. At first I could barely go one time around my high school track, but that didn’t last for long. A short time after starting to run, I was able to run three miles daily until I decided to run for 10 miles daily which lasted for years.

Walk Up Hills Slowly 1In reality, I had a lot of time to myself growing up. I didn’t have too many friends until I was older and my family wasn’t there for me either. So I learned to use the time I had to work on becoming a stronger and better me. Every time I was led to believe I couldn’t do something, I responded with silently telling myself “Watch Me!” If I wanted to do something bad enough, I found the inner strength and character to do it.

In truth, I wish I could say that I no longer struggle with poor coordination or bad hearing, but that would be a lie. To this day, I am sometimes sad that I don’t have the coordination to do serious hiking. That doesn’t mean that I don’t go hiking, it just means that I am honest with myself about what I can do. A few years ago, I decided to hike by myself in Madera Canyon, outside Tucson. When I came home, I was pretty battered with some “war stories”. My sons who were in their late teens and early 20s lost it with me. AND they were right. So now, I do a better job at honoring my abilities with honesty.

And to this day, I am initially anxious nearly every time I stand up to speak in front of others. I worry whether or not I am articulate or making sense. When I am really tired, I know that I don’t speak clearly. This doesn’t mean that I choose to be silent, it means that every time I stand up in front of people, I take a deep breath and I do say what I have to say. And for the most part, I have learned that even if I am having a rough day communicating, it’s really good enough and sometimes great!

I live my life by believing that I can and then I do! I take one step and then another. I rest. And then I do it all over again . . . and again . . . until I have accomplished my goals.

One of the things that has impacted me more than I thought previously possible, has been listening to the wisdom of so many others over the last several years. Through reading a lot and really listening to great podcasts, TEDTalks, etc., I am inspired! With nearly every written and spoken word, I am gaining insight and ultimately choosing how I want to better walk in the world. Ironically, my most profound lesson came from the first United States woman to summit Mount Everest without oxygen after trying to do so five other times. Melissa Arnot Reid said, “I walk up hills slowly.” AND that is what I have always done and will always do.

Onward with love, light, & blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space
between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
― Maya Angelou

Music was a huge blessing to me as I sought reprieve from the nightmares of my childhood. It gave sweet moments to get lost in my own cocoon and to momentarily hide from the explosions that threatened life as I knew it.

drumming with dogI nearly always had music playing; I could never get enough. And because my father was in the record business, he introduced me to all the popular music, hot musicians, and and all the records, cassettes, and eight tracks I could possibly want to hear.

 

Even as I left home in my late teens, my love of music never left me. Once I reached my middle to late 30s, I added drumming and chanting to my sweet repertoire of music. 

This new love affair came at the perfect time. It was during my late 30s that the pain of my childhood came roaring back to me when I was recovering  some long forgotten memories. The new wave of despair could only be quieted when I was chanting or drumming.

The good news is that now that I am just entering my mid-fifties, I have found a new rhythm to navigate my traumatic childhood and I still love music! Music will always be my refuge during the hard times and fuel for healthy living too.

What music inspires you on your darkest days? I am always looking for new musical inspiration.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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Prologue:
My father died 17 years and one day ago. While the loss feels fresh, it really was 6,206 days since my beloved father took his last breath. He left behind seven grandchildren who adored him along with their parents too. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of him or the way he walked in the world.  My father loved to tell stories, he was always telling stories. 

~ ~ ~

 “There’s always room for a story that can
transport people to another place.”
~J.K. Rowling

As a little girl, I remember devouring story after story. It didn’t matter how a story came to me. Good storytellers and good books held equal footing as far as I was concerned, but the man who will forever be remembered as the most amazing storyteller in the world is none other than my dad, Morry Bloomberg.

My father had a way with words. He could engage friend or stranger, child or adult. Wherever he went, he would find a perfect story to share and a way to lift people’s spirits.

As a young girl, I remember going into Giant, our local grocery store, and each and every cashier wanted Morry in their lines. It seemed like everyone would address him by name and take a moment to say hi to him. I loved how people knew my father and wanted to connect with him.

booksDad gave me love of words, all words. While he riveted me with his stories, he also loved reading and encouraged me to read and then read some more. It was through my own reading that I was able to visit far away places and navigate childhood as I did.

Gratitude Abounds:
Today, I can always be found with a book that I am reading, a podcast that is keeping me on the edge of my seat, and my own creative writing. Words fuel my soul.

And as luck would have it, I love telling stories and can sometimes be found sharing those stories with others whether in a grocery store line, an elevator, a classroom, or even a stage.

I am the storyteller and writer that I am because my father filled my world with stories.

My father will always hold the sacred space in my heart as being the best storyteller ever! If he is looking down at me, I hope he is proud of how he taught me to honor the power of words and inspired me to share my own stories.

NOTE: Please offer feedback by commenting on this post or letting me know that you like it after reading it. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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Moon May 2015Prologue: What does a writer do when she wakes up hours before dawn? 🙂 She writes and then writes some more.

~ ~ ~

Spinning a cocoon of darkness can be beautiful. In that darkness, awareness comes, skeletons are recognized, and insight is found.

Darkness isn’t necessarily filled with only sweet memories and reflections.

I will never forget the all night vigils of the summer of 2001. For several nights in one week, I was told that my father’s death was imminent and that I should stay by his bedside. The night skies and the dark halls that enveloped me also filled me with sadness. I was saying good-bye to my father and I felt all alone. I was all alone. And yet there are some beautiful memories and angels that showed up when my spirit was in need.

Years later, as my son Aryeh struggled for life, I also grew to despise the darkness. There were no words of comfort only the hours of watching my child suffer an enduring pain. Knowing that there was nothing I could do to help was devastating. The good news is that my son ultimately made it through and is one of the most amazing thrivers I know.

And then there are the realizations that come from sitting in the quiet of the darkness. It is in those moments, that I often come to grips with what I know, how I feel, and how to move forward with all of life’s moving parts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

When I was a little girl, my father would gently place his hands over my ears and whisper, “Listen to the quiet.”  I guess I always needed the quiet. Today, it is the darkness that often offers my soul the quiet that I yearn for.  Funny how that works.

Darkness always provides me with a cocoon of protection to be truly where I am.

(Note: Sometimes I have to look deeply into the darkness before sparks of light can emerge.)

 

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BreatheThere are days and weeks when I know that I don’t belong – anywhere. The loneliness seeps in and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am alone. The sadness settles deep inside my core until I can take a deep breath and navigate the jagged edges of my soul.

I know that I am not alone when I say that certain seasons are a trigger. The good news is that after decades of being reintroduced to the darkness every year, I have learned to ride the waves and trust that these feelings will not last forever.

I have learned to breathe deeply.

This week has been really tough in some ways, but profoundly enlightening in other ways. I have allowed myself to ride the waves of emotions and to take the time to face whatever I am feeling at any given moment.

And yes, I am alone, but that is ok.  I don’t believe most people want to hear about what the winter holidays were like for me growing up. And I don’t think anyone wants to hear what I was doing 28 years ago this week. The stories are part of what was, but not really who I am today. And yet. . .

The memory is a funny thing. Even when you think all is ok, you find out that it isn’t when the watershed opens at the least expected moment.

Earlier this week I had the honor of joining an Episcopal church for Christmas Eve services. From beginning to end, it was a really beautiful service. Except there was this moment that triggered a flood of emotions. The only problem is that I stood paralyzed by my inability to cry, to run, or to scream. As I listened to Hymn 97, I remembered 37 years prior when I was forced to solo sing the chorus of that very hymn in front of a congregation in a Methodist church.

At the time, I was a young Jewish girl living in a foster home somewhere in Arbutus, Maryland. The family made me go to church every Sunday; I don’t know if I realized that I could say ‘no’ or that I could simply refuse to go. I didn’t have the tools and no one would have heard me if I did.

While the memory flooded my spirit on Sunday night, I also had this incredible moment that that hymn was transformed into something beautiful instead of the memory of a young girl who was alone at one of the hardest times of her life.

No child should be forced to practice a faith that isn’t their own. No child should lose their voice to a system that is broken, but the good news is that the story didn’t end there. On Sunday night, I was able to get lost in the memory only to be ignited by the beautiful passion that that same hymn was able to transform a beautiful community into a holy one. In a spiritual moment, I was able to transform a dark memory and create new memories.

So while I sometimes feel alone, what I know today is some beautiful things can evolve from a moment alone. May I be blessed to remember that while I may have moments when I feel alone, I have a village to hold me tight and love me for the person I am.

Breathing deeply – now and always,

Chava

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(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)

Chava's Shadow 17January2016

Over the last many years, I have found myself struggling with communicating my thoughts and my feelings within close relationships. While intellectually, I know that I am articulate, the inner child in me has had to cope with feelings of inadequacy and feeling like I am sometimes invisible.

In truth, I understand why this is. This has been a reaction to losing a couple of my closest friends who didn’t want to hear my voice any longer. I may never know the full story, but it probably doesn’t matter. It is what it is. At the time, those experiences triggered memories of my childhood. During those early years, I learned that that I was insignificant; no one heard my cries or helped me in any tangible way. So I learned to hide behind the shadows. Sometimes that is still my safe space; sometimes I still go there.

What’s beautiful is that there is a part of me that understands how articulate I am. And there is another part of me that knows that my thoughts mean something to my family, my friends, and my community. My holy work is to fight the demons that try to silence me.  You know the voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough to share your thoughts; or that voice that reminds you that you are showing too much passion. My job right now is to stop that voice from affecting how I communicate.

 

Moving to Houston just over 16 months ago has contributed so much to my healing from loss of loved ones. It has also helped me to see that I have not been silenced by those closest to me unless you count me.

People want to hear my thoughts, my stories, my ideas, and most don’t mind hearing me fumble with words. I don’t always have to be articulate.

Over the last year I have listened to Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert. I love these podcasts that have inspired me to honor my creative soul and was especially touched by Episode 205 that I heard earlier this week. In it, Liz shared that our words are “better out than in.” While my passion sometimes feels unweildy, it is always intensely real and from my heart. As long as I remember that sharing my voice is like speaking my truth, I can ride the waves of life with a little more ease.

Plus it came at a time when I am planning to share more of my stories and ask others to share their stories of childhood and life traumas. I am starting a project in which I collect stories of positive souls that have had to overcome harsh traumas. I want to hear how people navigate the darkness and ultimately find light.

Hearing the podcast felt like a huge punch into my gut because it helped me to realize that I have been minimizing my voice instead of sharing it with the passion that is part of me. The good news is that this didn’t happen all the time, but it happened too much. So as I get ready to address some hard stuff in my writing and storytelling, and even within my personal relationships,  it is ok for me to also say that “it’s really scary for me to let this out, but I’d so much rather it come out all wrong than stay in all wrong.” My voice matters.

Being emotionally honest is how I navigate the world. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Onward with light & love,
Chava

 

 

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red yahrzeit candle26 years ago, I buried my mother. I remember one relative telling me she didn’t understand why I was so sad, but I was. As tough as my relationship with my mother was, I knew that once I buried her, I would never be able to make it better.

Over the last 26 years, I have faced some of the horrific memories and found ways to heal. The work is relentless, but the benefits are great. I am blessed to have found ways to navigate the darkness and friends that will listen to me on the rare days when the weight of my pain is too heavy to carry. The good news is that those days are few and far between.

For me, I have found that healing has happened on so many levels. I no longer feel deep anger or sadness on a regular basis. Time has been good to me. Sharing my story has helped me detach and move forward. I can now go months without thinking of the impact of her choices or feeling a physical reaction to my memories of her.

Through her actions, my mother taught me how to be a loving soul and a good mother. I knew I never wanted to mother like her or to lose control of myself to addiction. While I am not perfect, I am good enough and sometimes I am even good!

Changing my name so many years ago was the beginning of my healing journey. Writing, chanting, and drumming helped me dig deeper. Healing from domestic violence does not happen without taking many deep breaths, releasing the tears, and even allowing the nightmares to visit each night.  You have to go through the pain in order to find a softer landing, a better place.

Tonight I am missing the possibilities that were lost upon my mother’s death, but I am also feeling immense gratitude that I am exactly where I am. I may be sad in this moment, but it is the sadness that comes each yahrzeit (anniversary of a death) and each Mother’s Day.

The tears are cleansing. My heart is no longer broken. And I am breathing deeply.

Sadness happens. Healing happens too.

 

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(Note: I love being a mother to my sons, but I rarely think of Mother’s Day from the perspective of being an Ima, a mom,  or a mother.  This is one of the days that causes me to remember my own mother and those memories are far from good ones.)

In my own world! February 2015

Photo Courtesy of Aryeh Grossman; Composition by Marty Johnson

Mother’s Day always makes me sad and often makes me cry.

My own mother was a sick and troubled soul. While the pain she caused might have been only a portion of the pain she felt, the pain she caused left me broken and shattered.

Mother’s Day reminds me that I often feel less than whole. I feel like something will always be missing. Mom often reminded me that I was fat and ugly; mom didn’t know how to love me or nurture my soul.

But I will always remember that my mother gave me life. So while I may have moments when I feel battered and broken, I have always found the resiliency I need to embrace the healing journey.

The pain she caused empowered me to become the person I am. I love life deeply and I treasure my loved ones as well as the world around me. All life forces matter and I live accordingly.

Taking control of my life is a beautiful thing. Over the years, I have found my voice through writing and sharing my stories, I learned how to walk a healthier journey than the one of my birth, and I have grown into the beautiful woman that I am.

While Mother’s Day makes me pause and reminds me of my harsh beginnings with my own mother, it also reminds me of how far I have come.  Perhaps one day, I won’t cry on Mother’s Day. Perhaps I will be able to celebrate that I am the woman I am because of how my mother mothered me.

May it be so. . .

 

 

 

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“You are more powerful than you know;
you 
are beautiful just as you are.”
~ Melissa Etheridge

Reflection Time Selfie

Growing up, I was often referred to as fat or retarded. The insults were absolutely soul crushing; my spirit was a punching bag that was beaten down at home by my own mother and sometimes by the neighborhood kids. For the first third of my life, my self-esteem was quite literally pulverized.

Over the next third of my life, I learned to accept who I was and to trust the journey that I was living.  I made a choice to thrive and to accept where I was standing. I never wanted to look in the mirror, get on a scale, or have my picture taken.  I didn’t really believe in myself, but I learned to reach out of myself and make better choices. I pushed myself academically and physically; I made and kept amazing friends.  During this time, I faced life and death at regular intervals. I absorbed  tremendous loss while also getting a glimpse into the person I was capable of being. I grew up a lot, had two beautiful sons, and started to find my voice.

The last third of my life, to date, has been profound. I have recovered horrid memories, loved and lost, found my voice, and discovered my many hopes and dreams. (A bucket list is being created as I type.) I have embraced change and accepted the woman I am. And at every turn, I have grown to love who I am and to see the many truths that make up who I am today. I have made tremendous mistakes, faced some deep sadness, experienced ecstatic joy and daily contentment.

With each breath, I am becoming the best me that I can be. I have chosen to live life fully, to reach for my dreams, and to honor the beautiful person that I am. Most importantly, I have accepted that I am a work in progress and that is ok.

On most days, I can look at myself in the mirror and I don’t cringe when I see myself in a photograph. And on better days, I may even love a photo with me in it. Dark days are few and far between. My family of choice reminds me that I am loved while my children, my brother, and my sister-in-law treasure me for the person I am. I am loved. And some people even see me as beautiful. As for me, I am mostly content with the person I am in this moment. I love writing, chanting, drumming, and pushing myself to grow spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Approaching my 50th birthday is profoundly freeing. I am willing to reach for what I want knowing that my best laid plans may evolve as I do the work. In front of me is a door that is wide open and waiting for me to step across the threshold. I am both afraid and excited to be taking this trek. I no longer fear being alone, but I’d welcome true love again. Mostly, I am striving to take care of myself, honor who I am, and to make a difference in the both my community and my world. I want to have a positive impact as a mother, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a writer and an activist.

In preparation for my 50th birthday this coming February, I am choosing to share my journey towards living more fully.  My guess is that I may have moments of stumbling with this format and the process, but in the end I will land on my two feet – I always do.

I feel blessed. Every moment I have lived has helped to create my foundation as a woman and human being. Today there are many doors wide open and paths calling my name. With a full heart,I am embracing journey towards 50 years old and beyond.

In closing, I want to share a prayer written by Alden Solovy that resonated deeply and helped me prepare to openly journal my journey towards 50.

Regarding Old Wounds
Daughter of man,
Son of woman,
Children of compassion and sacred secrets:
Your wounds are deep,
Your losses crushing,
Knife on flesh,
Hammer on bone,
Burning your heart and searing your eyes.
Why do you invite them back
To chastise your days
And torture your nights?
Why do you love these old wounds,
Holding them so dear?

Son of celebration,
Daughter of ecstasy:
Cast off your doubts,
Banish your fears,
Exile the pain of time beyond your reach.
There is beauty in your past,
Wonder in your future,
And holiness in each new moment of life.

Come you children of G-d,
You witnesses of suffering and grace,
Lift your heads from your hands,
Raise your voices in song,
Lift your lives in service,
And rekindle the light of compassion and love.
Then, your lives will become a blessing,
A well of hope,
A river of consolation,
A fountain of peace.

Blessed are You, G-d of forgiveness,
You renew our lives with purpose.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Thanks for walking through the door way with me. . . . .the best is yet to come. 🙂

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  • Hebrew text reads - Kol haolam kulo gesher tzar meod vehaikar lo lfached klal

 

Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo gesher tzar me’od
V’ha-i-kar lo l’fached klal

The whole world is a very narrow bridge;
the important thing is not to be afraid.
~R
abbi Nachman of Bratslav

It is never too late
To start over again,
To feel again
To love again
To hope again…

(Adapted from Rabbi Harold Schulweis’ “It is Never Too Late”)

Near Eric's house

 Life has always been full for me.

Mostly I find the sparks of light and keep pushing forward.  Mostly.  And there are days that I simply live in the metaphors.  I ‘climb every mountain’, ‘shovel shit’ and of  course ‘cross that bridge when I come to it’.

The key is that I always keep moving. Sometimes I ‘tread water’; sometimes I ‘pedal backwards’, but I always navigate in hopes of landing in a better place.  And while I may have to cope with some fear, I remember that moving forward is not optional.  As long as I am striving to live authentically and working towards reaching my dreams, I will have what it takes to cross over ‘the bridge’.

Even now as I seek solid ground as I look for a professional position that can be positively impactful in every way AND as I try to grow as a mother, a writer and a human being.  I have come so far and have so far to go. Don’t we all?

One of the first songs/verses that helped me navigate the many bridges of my life was Reb Nachman’s, The World is a Narrow Bridge’.  This song has joined me in every step of my life since I can remember.  I remember singing these words to myself for hours during my very dark childhood, when living in Israel and facing the War in Lebanon and with the painfully health challenges that plagued my children’s lives.

With each and every personal, community, and world crisis – this melodic tune would soothes me and coaxes me into action and into believing that while the world is a narrow bridge’, we can’t get stuck.  We have to trust that we can keep moving forward. As long as we realize that there is no room for allowing fear to get in the way of healing, life has the possibility of moving to a better place.

Even with loss comes memories.
Even with failure comes knowledge.

Life is a journey full of so many bridges that each of us will need to cross during our life times.  So many of them will feel daunting; some will feel freeing; all will lead us to transformation. May we have the strength to keep perspective with each and every step as we cross ‘our bridge’.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS-I have fallen in love with Elton John’s, ‘The Bridge’.  It is another reminder of how bridges ultimate add to the fabric of my life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5EOnArzU5Q

“The Bridge”
Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Bernie Taupin

I’ve seen the bridge and the bridge is long
And they built it high and they built it strong
Strong enough to hold the weight of time
Long enough to leave some of us behind

[chorus:]
And every one of us has to face that day
Do you cross the bridge or do you fade away
And every one of us that ever came to play
Has to cross the bridge or fade away

Standing on the bridge looking at the waves
Seen so many jump, never seen one saved
On a distant beach your song can die
On a bitter wind, on a cruel tide

[repeat chorus]

And the bridge it shines
Oh cold hard iron
Saying come and risk it all
Or die trying

[repeat chorus]

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